Water Bound: Wet and Wild Water Sports in North Carolina to Keep Cool this Summer

Summer has officially begun, and the hottest months of the year are here. The beach is calling, but for adventure seekers and activity lovers who cherish the water, there are other bodies of water in North Carolina that beckon, as well.

Take like a fish to water? Whether you stick to the heated indoor pool, swim in a local lake, wade in a river or stream, have fun at a water park, or venture out into the vast ocean, stay active in—or on—the type of water of your choice.


SURFING – Perhaps it was the Beach Boys who iconized it with “Surfin’ USA,” but surfing has become a popular water sport, making waves with knee boarding and surf matting (riding inflatable mats). Body boarding is a common type of surfing, and body surfing is considered by some as the purest form of surfing.

Suggested NC Surfing Places: The Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Jennette’s Pier, and S-Curves in Northern Rodanthe


WINDSURFING combines surfing and sailing (also known as “sailboarding” or “boardsailing”) and emerged from the California surf culture circa in the 1960s. This recreational water sport is divided into the two main categories of racing and riding.

Suggested NC Windsurfing Places: Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Avon, and Frisco


Thrill-seekers may enjoy this adrenaline-pumping high-impact water sport. Wakeboarders ground their feet on the board and hold on to a rope attached to the back of a boat designed specifically for wakeboarding, with rigging and engine power to set you flying along the water. For the more advanced and daring, there are always jumps and flips. If trying this out in man-made bodies of water, pulled around by a built-in cable, it may be best to start with support from coaches to guide you along.

Suggested NC Wakeboarding Places:  Hyco, Kerr, Falls, and Lake Norman


KITEBOARDING or kitesurfing with a large power kite propelled by wind along water, land, or snow surface combines the thrills of paragliding, surfing, windsurfing, and snowboarding. Kitesurfers ride on a “twin tip” bi-directional board, similar to a wakeboard.  A wet suit is a good idea when kiteboarding in cold waters.

Suggested NC Kiteboarding Places: Blown Island Riding Spot, located near Emerald Isle, NC Cape Hatteras, Crystal Coast, Ocracoke Island, and Wilmington

PARASAILING, also known as parascending or parakiting, takes place where the parasailer is towed behind a vehicle (e.g., boat) that’s attached to a parasail wing, like a parachute.

Suggested NC Parasailing Places: Beautfort, Atlantic Beach, Avon, Corolla, Duck, Manteo, Nag’s Head, and Rodanthe


SUP (STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING) is a fairly laid-back water activity ideal for toning those abs with core-centering; it involves balancing on a large board on the water. SUP yoga is best practiced on calm bodies of water such as lakes, bays, or harbors. Build endurance, improve your posture, and strengthen your muscles. Not only is it a relaxing form of body conditioning that aligns the mind, body, and spirit, but also provides an overall workout.

Suggested NC SUP Places:  Cape Fear River, Lilington, Wilmington, Cornelius Catawba River.  See TriadEcoAdventures.com for local options.


KAYAKING is a low-impact water sport in a small boat that seats one or two people and is propelled by double-bladed paddle power. Try kayaking if you’re looking for an upper-body workout that strengthens not just your arms but also shoulders, chest, back, and core. Love fishing? Kayak to a spot where fish congregate and quietly drop a baited line. Start out in the gentler waters before heading out to the river rapids.

Suggested NC Kayaking Places: Devil’s Gut near Jamesville, Rocky River Blueway, Three Sisters Swamp, Bald Cypress, and Black Water

CANOEING involves paddling a canoe with a single-bladed paddle in a variety of water settings, including lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, and streams.

Suggested NC Canoeing Places: Auto, Cherokee, Bakersville, and Smoky Mountain River.

So, whether you’re heading for an outdoor water adventure, a nearby water park, or a swim at the neighborhood pool, water-bound is the way to make the most of your summer!



Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!

Latest Stories

Other Featured Articles


All Article in Current Issue

Fancy Fork

Welcome back to the Fancy Fork – your

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!